A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Haigo

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories book cover
Rating 8.5/10
The whole manga can be expressed using one word, compassion.

For those who are familiar with Moto Hagio's manga novels, but aren't so with the short manga, here are ten stories that will give everyone who reads them different emotions. Bianca, Girl on Porch with Puppy, Autumn Journey, Marie, Ten Years Later, A Drunken Dream, Hanshin: Half-God, Angel Mimic, Iguana Girl, The Child who Comes Home and The Willow Tree. Moto Hagio's work spans the 1970's to the modern day, so it is interesting to see the development of the style over the past ten or so years.

The stories are easy to read, and the artwork makes it that much easier to grasp the subject matter. As a reader it is important to be able to take in the words and the visuals, so from the first story, Bianca, the setting is laid out for the reader to see, the woman showing her paintings to a potential buyer ends up telling him her life story about the young girl in them, Bianca Austin. The dreamy look in the girl's eyes can easily be seen in the panels as the eyes seem to dance over them. Bianca's general look is one of curiosity throughout the manga, and her expression reminded me of Dolfie dolls.

One thing I did notice was that Moto Haigo has a unique way of drawing objects and flora as well as fauna. Her depiction of roses hanging outside a window is stunning, as she has sculpted them into an abstract form. Rather than a balance of light and dark in the panels, what readers get is a lightness of tone with only a small part of the art with any shade in it whatsoever. While that might be unusual in sequential art, it is interesting in this series of stories.

Iguana Girl is one of the longest stories here, and the story descends into a surreal world of a real Iguana wanting to become human due to falling in love with a human herself. She is presented with a problem once her wish is granted and she becomes a human woman, that if her lover learns of her secret she will transform back into the iguana.

This general theme reminds me of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. For every fortune there is a downside, and for the Iguana Girl this is it. The art is pastel shaded and melancholy, yet interesting and fits in well with the story. The story isn't what it seems however, as readers will come to notice.

A Drunken Dream, the story that is named after the novel, has two boys who are resurrected and is one of many of Moto Hagio's early works. It can be seen with the general look of the artwork as well as the tone of the piece. It is as heart-warming as the rest of the stories, and the minimalist artwork fits in very well with the tender subject matter. The whole manga can be expressed using one word, compassion, as that is what the reader must feel for the characters displayed in here.

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